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Doing It Different

Each of us has our own way of doing certain things.

Some methods are better than others and some methods are plainly NOT!

Goadgetter exists to challenge our ineffective approaches to life and dare us to yield to the faith-fueled process of Doing it Different.  

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Welcome to the Goadgetter!

I’m glad you’ve chosen to stop by and have a read. Here’s hoping when you’ve come to the last word of this blog, you will join me by becoming a Goadgetter.

You may be wondering, “What the heck is a Goadgetter?”

The expression Goadgetter was coined by a cherished friend who, along with her husband patiently listened to a longwinded story I shared regarding my take away from studying a particular Bible passage.  

Grab a bottle of water and sit back as I share the story with you:

A few years ago, I was reading chapter 143 from the Book of Psalms in the Bible. I was reading from the King James Version because it maintains the original Hebrew and Greek translation…and I absolutely LOVE excavating the meaning of various words I come across.  On this particular day, I read and reread verse 10:

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

For those of you who prefer a more modern account of the passage, here’s the verse again from the New International Version:

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

The chapter is authored by a man named David, who from all accounts was not having a good day. He was overwhelmed by his circumstances and pleading with God to relieve him of his distresses. And just as I often do when I pray for something, David asked the Lord to hurry up and answer him.  In the midst of his anguish, David manages to lift his hands to God as he reflects on His handiwork and supreme accomplishments.

 

Then David asks God something I found interesting:

to “teach him to do His [God’s] will.” 

Of all the requests David had made during his heartfelt appeal, he requested the Creator of the universe to “teach” him something…that something being God’s will.

I want to pause for a moment.  My youngest daughter is 10-years old.  I wish she would come to me and say, “Mommy, I love you.  Teach me to do ‘your’ will!”

Wait. What?

While I’m highly doubtful I’m going to experience such an exchange, it’s certainly wishful to think it might happen.

But fancy that. A CHILD asking a PARENT, DAVID asking the FATHER GOD, or better yet, the CREATED asking the CREATOR to teach him or her to actually do—accomplish and practice His desires and His choices.

As David’s request resonated with me as one who follows Christ (on most days), I sought further to know what was meant by the word “teach.” The surprising insight forever changed the way I regard being taught something.  

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While I know the Bible was written in Classical Hebrew and Greek languages, I didn’t know much about the languages.  According to scholars, the Hebrew language revolved around the arduous living of farmers and shepherds in uncultivated and desert regions from many centuries ago.

The Hebrew word for teach is Lamad. In the Strong’s Concordance, #3925, the definition includes the following: to teach; to goad; to instruct; to cause someone to learn…”

A Goad? Why that?

The goad, being a traditional farming tool, often long with a pointed end, was commonly used by ranchers to provoke, and yet direct livestock. According to Hayford’s Bible Handbook, lamad or rather teach is a verb and its origin may be traced to the goading of cattle. Similarly, teaching and learning are attained through a great variety of goading, by memorable events, techniques, or lessons. 

Considering the Hebraic meaning and provocative use of a goad, I think about David’s appeal when he bids God to teach him to do His will. Being the son of a shepherd, David had experience in tending to his dad’s flock, thus it stands to reason he would be familiar with the process and the instruments used to care for the herd.

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As I extracted the profoundness of David’s plea, it resulted in the following take away:

David was not simply asking the Lord to teach him to do His will. His prayer suggests his openness to God and His method of instruction. He was emphatic when he spoke, “You are my God” and “Your Spirit is good,” so it was fitting to ask the Lord to lead him to a level place—a place of uprightness—where one’s character is approved by God.

By asking the Lord to teach him, David was consenting to the Lord’s sometimes peculiar and incomprehensible ways He chooses to develop one’s character. And if you know anything about David, you know certain actions of his were far from perfect.

At the heart of the prayer (at least the way I perceive it), David was agreeing to practice God’s will—to do His choices and desires.  And he was agreeable to the Lord’s teaching style, which on occasion included goading. 

I see an image of the Divine Shepherd using the pointed end of His long staff to uncomfortably motivate the wayward, stubborn and slow-moving human flock to get going and do the things the Lord is asking of YOU.

Goadgetter was crafted as a means to help me stay focused and committed to the ways of God and to the personal endeavors I want to undertake.

Goadgetter is concerned with addressing insubordinate and apprehensive habits that unfavorably affect our spiritual wellbeing.

As the Lord God pricks and prods me from a lackadaisical temperament, I plan to pass along the discomfort. My aim is to use biblical insight to promote your Christian growth while goading you to do “whatever” it is you know you should do. 

 

Be prepared to…

 

Get Goin’ Girl! and Get Goin’ Guy!

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  • Shari Gabourel

Let’s be honest. We all know someone we don’t particularly care for. It’s that someone who’s personality can sometimes be “over the top,” or the individual is sweetly pessimistic.


Perhaps it’s the coworker who doesn’t pull their fair share. The neighbor who doesn’t quite buy into the pride of ownership on the street you live on. Maybe it’s someone who lacks intellectual pedigree and tries to feign savvy when everyone in the room knows otherwise. They’re someone you don’t want to call a close friend, so you’ll regard them as an associate.


I’m not referring to someone who dislikes you and considers you a rival. On the contrary. I’m speaking about someone who by all accounts treats you well. They unwittingly are unfazed by your superficial engagement which is fueled by your blatant contempt for them.


Who’s coming to mind right now?


Yep…that’s who I’m talking about.

Now, switch places with the person in your mind. Mentally think of yourself as the one who is being lowly regarded and treated disingenuously.


Just the thought of someone treating me indifferently for no biblically valid reason hurts my heart.


But I’m guilty of having treated certain individuals in such a manner. And sadly, I’ve also experienced the same unfriendly approach. It’s not a good feeling.


So what’s the point?

The point—which is at the end of the Goad—is for you and I to knock it off!


For those of us who subscribe to biblical values, behaving in the manner described is not acceptable.


The clear insight found in Galatians 5:13-15 did a few things…


The words confronted me, chastised me and corrected me.


Here’s what it says,


13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other (New International Version-Emphasis added for effect).


I suggest you read chapter five in its entirety, on your own. But for now, I want to share how I was goaded by the directive.


As the passage reminds us of our liberty or rather freedom as followers of Christ, such a privilege should never be abused, particularly to appease our carnal tendencies.


Thayer’s definition of true liberty is “living as we should not as we please.”


We don’t get to treat people any kind of way. We are to serve one another humbly in love. Or as a Greek-English lexicon puts it, you and I are to…


Serve, normally in a humble manner and in response to the demands or commands of others... (emphasis added for effect).[1]


Why are we to do this? Because the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this ONE command: Love your neighbor as yourself.


And your neighbor includes that person you don’t care for. Ouch!!

So let’s you and I be the change we fuss about not seeing in others. When we hear of those stories of someone being ill-treated, make sure it’s not us who’s doing the mistreating.


Verse 15 admonishes us,

If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.


Are you biting someone? Are you devouring someone?


According to Thayer’s definition, the Greek word for bite is Dakno. It means “to bite with the teeth.” It also means to “wound the soul” or worse yet, to tear apart and treat with scorn or contempt.


As men and women of faith, we should not be known for biting or devouring anyone.


Whoever that person is you were thinking about, they don’t deserve such treatment. So let’s do better by being better.


Let’s love our neighbors, our coworkers, our associates, our friends, and our families.

You got this!


Healing from the goad,


Shari


Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 460). New York: United Bible Societies.

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  • Shari Gabourel


In last week’s post, I shared an abbreviated version of how I turned out the way I did. And while there are so many other undocumented experiences that have shaped me into the temperamentally suspect Christian I am today, I want to talk about the frequent wrestling I engage in when it comes to my believing in God. More specifically, it’s believing that WHAT I have asked God for will be answered to my satisfaction.


I vent about this struggle in chapter two of the book.


Throughout much of my adult Christian life, I had regularly felt deficient when it came to having faith in God or believing God for whatever it was I requested in prayer.


I had come to believe the lack of affirmative answers to my prayers were the result of my unbelief. But on an ordinary morning while engaged in contemplative worship, I perceived an internal, and different perspective was being given to me. The insight was proceeded by an occasion of mourning.


In recent weeks, a friend of mine’s closest friend in her 40’s suffered a massive stroke and wasn’t expected to survive. While I didn’t personally know the woman, I knew it was proper to join my friend and the host of other “believers” in prayer as we pleaded with God not to allow her to die.

Unfortunately, a few days later, I received the gut-wrenching call confirming the friend had passed away.


After offering empty condolences and assuring my now grieving friend I would pray for the family, I hung up the phone and spoke a prayer that was diluted with disappointment.


Why did this have to happen? A woman in her 40’s, with a husband and teenage children having a stroke? Huh?


Had I not done what it says in Matthew 21:22 which says, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive (New King James Version)?”


Did I mess it up? Was I not believing?


And if I wasn’t believing, then Lord, please help my unbelief!


As I share this story, I have to admit an erratic disposition surfaced during the short time I was praying for the woman. When I initially learned about her condition, the request to pray for her was punctuated by these words: “


"The doctors don’t expect her to live.”


In retrospect, those words materialized. But before the words came to pass, my attention became distracted by the grim announcement. The prayer I had spoken was marred by anxiety—extreme uneasiness of mind. This mental space is what Scripture advises Christians to avoid. And yet, there it was, rearing its ugly head and stifling implications.

I’m going off on a tangent, but I believe it’s worth it.

In the New International Version, Philippians 4:6 reads,


Do not BE anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (emphasis added for effect).” Don’t dismiss the two-letter word that carries great significance…Be.

One of my favorite dictionaries (The American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster 1828) defines “be” as follows:


To stand, remain or be fixed; hence to continue.


The truth is, as I prayed for the dear woman, I was anxious. I knew it and God knew it.


But I continued to pray for her, despite the somber prognosis and despite the anxiety.


I was trying to be intentional by practicing not being anxious.


Becoming unnerved by shocking news is certainly natural. After all, we’re human. We have emotions. We have hormones…some more active than others.


But what stood out about Webster’s definition of the word “be” was it spoke to duration. It spoke to length of action. It seems what is most critical about the condition of anxiety is how long I remain in such a state.

The goal is not to be, or rather remain or continue in the space of extreme uneasiness of mind. By continuing in a place we’re not supposed to be is essentially loitering. We’re lingering around or slowly moving from a place that’s not designed to be inhabited.


I’m not suggesting we behave like everything is alright when clearly it’s not. I’m encouraging you and myself to take our crying eyes and runny noses and direct our frustration about a situation towards the Lord. Whatever that looks like for you is what you should do. And in the uncomfortable process, expect the Lord to respond in ways that only He can.


Okay, back to the story…


In spite of the dismal news, I had to pray because I’m a believer, aren’t I?


So what exactly does it mean to be a believer, I asked myself.


In my mind and considering what I think I know about being a Christian, a believer is one that believes in and follows the model of Jesus Christ.


As I sat alone that particular morning nursing abject feelings, I sought counsel from the various theological literature and resources I have assembled over the years.


Tyndale Bible Dictionary exposits it this way:


Believers are those who believe…specifically, those who believe in Jesus as Lord and follow him… Although New Testament authors emphasized believing, they rarely used the term “believer” as a name for Christians. There are a few clear examples…but in other places the term is a description, not a name…As a name, “believer” points to the personal commitment of Christians to Jesus.


On that basis, I, in fact am a believer. It’s not only who I am, but equally, it’s what I do. Believing is not a one-time event. Believing is a verb, thus it’s acting to achieve a desire or a purpose. Believing takes practice (repeated exercise of an activity to improve one’s proficiency) day in and day out.


I am more than a believer, but I, too am believing. So when I pray and endeavor to align my pleas with Scripture, irrespective of the outcome, I am still persuaded of the truth of God’s existence…I still expect things from Him and I still hope in Him.


After spending further reflective time with the Lord, I perceived the following as my take away:


On the other side of believing the Lord for a prescribed answer is…


His answer.


In this narrative, the Christ-following, ailing wife and mother did not recover from the Cerebrovascular accident. Instead, she went to be with the Lord in Heaven.


While this was not the outcome I was hoping for, it was an occasion where I had to reflect on the passage in Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV) that asserts,


“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,     neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.


“As the heavens are higher than the earth,     so are my ways higher than your ways     and my thoughts than your thoughts.


To be sure, this instance and others like it make me want to desert the Christian journey. But that would be too easy.


So I don’t get everything about the Word of God? Now what?


I don’t get everything about the various branches of math, but that doesn’t stop me from earning and spending money.


I don’t get everything about Science, but that doesn’t mean I refuse to breathe because I can’t see air.

No…I really don’t want to be a non-believer. What I really want is for the Lord to do what I want Him to do, when I want Him to do it. I want him to take my order like the wait staff do at a restaurant. And I don’t want to have to “wait” for my order or my request too long.

But what if I reversed the roles. What if I was the waiter and I approached the Lord with a zealous, “What can I do for You today?”


And what if He responded, “Your faith and trust in me looks good. I think I’ll have that!


I’m sure that’s what He wants from me…and from you.


As a believing Christ-follower, my role is to do just that—believe and follow Jesus Christ.


I became a follower of Christ when I declared with my mouth “Jesus is Lord” and I believed in my heart that God raised Him from the dead. As a result of that act, I received salvation (Romans 10:9-10 NIV). In other words, at the end of my life, I will be delivered and preserved from the penalty and power of sin and upon the visible return of Jesus Christ, I will live with Him in Heaven, throughout all eternity.


Yet, having such a secure future doesn’t mean I also received infinite knowledge, though I wish I did. Consequently, I don’t get everything in Scripture, but I’m not going to let that stop me from believing.

As a Christ-follower and a believer, I am devoted to the sometimes frustrating work of believing. After all, a believer is who I am and believing is what I am to do.


My belief in the Lord and His Word should not cease because of my finite understanding of His divinely inspired Word.


What is certain (at least for me), is on the other side of believing is God’s answer. His response to my requests may either flood me with joy or level me with sorrow, but He still provides an answer.


For He is GOD and I am not.


In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus was preparing to physically leave his followers and return to Heaven. Prior to doing so, He asserted the following words:


18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (NIV).”


I conclude with this passage as it is comforting to know on the occasions I’m having a tough time emotionally processing an unexpected outcome to a prayer request, that all authority in Heaven and Earth has been given to Jesus Christ and that He is always with me.


And dear friend, He is always with YOU!


So what’s the goad-getting task you can do as you head into the week?


What can you do different (if anything) when disturbing news rings your doorbell?


You’ll undoubtedly respond like any other human does, at least at the outset. But should anxiety begin to inundate your being, make an effort to practice what Philippians 4:6-8 asserts. Do it mindfully and in a deliberate manner.

Remember, the goal is not to linger in a space where you can be rendered ineffective.


Doing something over nothing,


Shari


Citations:

Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). In Tyndale Bible dictionary (p. 157). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.


New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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  • Shari Gabourel

In chapter one of Encouragement from a Sometimes Anxious and Sometimes Believing Christ-Follower (EFASA&SBCF), I share a little about who I am. But that was more of a snap shot.


Here’s a bit more about yours truly and perhaps it may help you understand how I turned out the way I did…and you’ll pray for me.

I was born in Vallejo, California. It’s a small city where San Francisco sits to its north and Napa Valley is to its south. I was raised and co-raised by a young, single mother and her still, very youthful single mom. I was an only child from my mother’s womb, but thanks to my absentee father, I had more than a few half-siblings. Like so many others, my upbringing was marked by a number of good times; however, it was also marred by events that were not so good. More on that in another post.


As an only kid, I became an avid reader. It was my favorite go-to. The fictional stories I read seemed to welcome me into another time and place, where I was no longer alone, but having fun with virtual characters who imaginably related to my irrational adolescence. It was as if books became my closest friends.


Another favorite of mine was going to church. Though my mom and grandmother (who I lovingly call Nonnie) worked earnestly throughout the week, they were pretty consistent in their church attendance on Sundays.

We attended a small and lively Baptist church that had all the denominational distinctions of an African-American church. The services were lengthy; the singing was deafening; the sermons were fiery, and the congregation was theatrical. It was in that environment where I was introduced to Jesus Christ and offered the opportunity to be in a devoted relationship with Him.


So at the curious age of 12, I repeated a variation of the Sinner’s Prayer and within seconds I had become a Christian. It was that simple…or so I thought.


When I was 13, I accepted the post-sermon invitation to become baptized. Within the same month, I along with other nervous teens was baptized in the church’s baptistery. Because I wasn’t a swimmer, I was terrified of the possibility I might drown in front of all the cheering onlookers singing off key, “Take me to the water.”

There I was standing next to the pastor with my arms criss-crossed against my chest as he said, “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”


And swish…it was over. I hadn’t perished. I stood dripping with water and crying like a baby, thrilled to be well on my way to following in the footsteps of Jesus.


Sometime later, one of the associate pastors and his wife presented me with a gift. It was a yellow, Double-Day dictionary that was missing its hard front cover. I wasn’t sure why they gave me a dictionary, of all things, but I acknowledged their gift with a thank you. I would soon comb through the dictionary like it was a Judy Blume novel.

I started to love looking up words and learning their meanings. I enjoyed scrolling down, page after page, and reading lists of words from the English language, while learning its pronunciation, its origin, and its usage. I found it fascinating. Consequently, my vocabulary began to expand and I was wanting to write stories so I could use the new words I had learned. All because of a silly, old dictionary.


As my love of reading never waned and my relationship with Christ evolved, I would spend an undocumented amount of hours reading the Bible. To aid in my understanding of Scripture, I used certain Bible translations, concordances, and dictionaries to interpret the text. Using colored pens and highlighters, I’d circle certain words and highlight various passages that stood out to me. I’d capture my times of studying in notebooks and journals. For whatever reason, studying the word of God became my most treasured thing to do.


Fast forward two decades later. By this time, I had f-i-n-a-l-l-y graduated from college, relocated to Los Angeles, was working in Public Safety, and I was still bearing my surname. And with no viable bachelors in sight, I figured I’d pursue a graduate degree in Quality Assurance.


Having worked in state government for several years up to this point, I had observed a number of inefficient practices throughout various programs. I thought if there was a more prudent way to do things, why not do it? If I immersed myself in Six Sigma, process improvement, and customer satisfaction, perhaps I could make an impact…somewhere, somehow.


Then a dear friend from Sacramento came to visit me. Years prior, she and I attended the same church and were actively involved in the worship and music ministry. Again, I’ll cover that in a later post.


As I was sharing my academic plans, she looked at me and said, “Why are you doing this? You already know about quality assurance.”


While I believed her words were somewhat true, I knew deep down I wanted to obtain a master’s degree. Yet, two of the reasons I wanted it was not admirable. If I were to be honest, I wanted the degree to wield it as an impressive talking point. I wasn’t terribly interested in going back to school for 18 months or so, but if that’s what it took, then so be it. The other reason I wanted the degree was to augment my future earnings. Again, not the best reasons to pursue higher education.


I also believed obtaining such a degree would empower me to help businesses perform optimally. Before an organization can think about improving productivity, they will need to focus on their most valuable resource—the human resource. By nurturing individuals through proper training and development, you can unleash the resident giftings within them. Such care and attention to people will undoubtedly assist an organization in achieving its goals. And I wanted to help make that happen.


As we continued chatting, I shared the other wild notion I had of attending Bible College. I asserted my desire was purely personal as I longed to improve who I was as a person and perhaps an education in theology could help.

My friend patiently listened and retorted, “You know what you should do and going after a degree in quality assurance is not it.


Subsequently, I cancelled my enrollment with the California State University and in the winter of 2003, I enrolled at The King’s College and Seminary, now known as The King’s University. The next three years would certainly change my life.

During the summer of 2003 and 2004, I had the extraordinary privilege to study abroad at the historic Oxford University. Learning about Christendom and its abundant heritage at one of the oldest English-speaking universities in the world was truly incredible!


The entire Seminary journey was life-changing. After three intense years of study, I finally earned a Graduate Certificate in Christian Ministries.


If Seminary taught me anything, it was my pre-understanding of God was not as accurate as I once believed. I would soon realize the God of the universe was not a denomination confined to constitutions or bylaws. He was and is SO MUCH MORE than my narrow and short-sighted perspective.


He is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.


I will no doubt spend the rest of my days endeavoring to learn, understand, and live out the intentions the Lord has for my life. Thankfully, I can use the numerous wordbooks, thesauruses, and concordances I’ve acquired over the years to support my studying the word of God, my writing, and my gradual transformation.



One of the purposes I’ve been clear about for some time (though I struggle with it), is to encouragingly promote another’s Christian growth using biblical insight.


As the Lord brings about a spiritual disturbance within me—prodding me from a halfhearted attitude while strengthening me to be the best “me” possible, I plan to nudge you as well.


Hmmm…perhaps certain Quality Assurance attributes can be used after all—to inspire God’s people to become their best.


Here’s hoping you return for the next edition of encouragement,


Shari


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